In one scenario presented in Friday's plan, the system would have a $50 million operating deficit in 2022, although revenue would climb sufficiently to cover costs in future years, the report said. It recommends a multiyear operating contract to even out revenues or a short-term capital reserve loan as backup.
The Legislature previously asked the rail authority to improve its ridership numbers. Rail planners now expect more trips of shorter duration, although the report does not explain why that is the case. It forecasts from 7.4 million to 14 million riders on the initial 130-mile segment in 2025, rising quickly to 18.1 million to 31.7 million riders in 2030.
It also notes that many so-called "millennials" born between 1983 and 2000 are eschewing cars in favor of public transportation and urban living.
"As high-speed rail becomes part of California's transportation network over the next several decades, the largest and most public transit-oriented generation will be getting into its prime traveling years," the report said.
The report also cites progress by the rail authority in building a new leadership team that is focused on "building new and better relationships" with those affected by the project.
Those who have sued to try to block the project include a group of Kings County farmers and landowners in the case that prompted the Sacramento County Superior Court judge to toss out the financing plan, and San Francisco Bay Area Peninsula residents.